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Dispossession: Agency, ecology and theatrical reality

TaPRA Theatre, Performance and Philosophy Working Group

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Published on Friday, March 29, 2019


In Ursula Le Guin’s 1974 novel The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia, children are educated to engage only with what interests others; the opposite is considered self-indulgence, condemned as “egoizing”. The disowning of any idea of the self is considered a virtue, as is the ability to speak the language of others. Le Guin’s novel fictionalises a common narrative in processes of 20th and early 21st century art: the withdrawal of the self. In relation to concurrent processes that reclaim agency for those who are already dispossessed, that call for the legitimisation of systematically marginalised voices, is the withdrawal of the self merely a privilege? How might wilful dispossession and agency be related through difference, as interconnected transitions of power, in such a way that reveals theatricality in the construction of reality?


04-06 September 2019


Theatre and performance foreground ways to unlearn known frameworks of thought, and modes of relation, to envision alternative modalities of being in the world. Yet at the same time, theatre and performance still provide some framework for agencies prone to singularity to come to the fore. As both a mode of understanding relation itself and a description of relations beyond the human, how does ecology exacerbate these tensions by challenging the value of human agency? When antagonism becomes the dominant mode of governmentality, how might dispossession and agency recompose urgent questions around theatricality and reality, not only in theatre, performance and philosophy, but also in the public and political spheres?

  • Might theatre and performance encourage affective and imaginative questions around these issues that reveal the real and theatrical contradictions around agency?
  • How does performance resist systems of mastery and subjectivisation that perpetrate the dominance of normative cultures and knowledges?
  • How can it reach towards modes of relation that call for new frames and practices that (re)situate the human, turning to forms of dispossession and vulnerability that urge us to abandon the comfort of known systems of reality and thought?
  • How can philosophy and performance imagine different ecologies – modes of interconnectedness – between the nonbiological, nonhuman and human?
  • Could such a recomposition of relation build upon historical precedents to make the conditions for new futures possible – futures in which solidarity is not an exclusively human concept?

  The TaPRA Theatre, Performance and Philosophy Working Group welcomes proposals that address the above questions, and invites abstracts for 20-minute papers, curated panels, workshops, performances and other forms of intervention that might engage with the following themes, and beyond:

  • Dispossession and the material body (Moritz Frischkorn; Judith Butler)
  • Magic and forms of reality (Federico Campagna)
  • Agency, mastery and decolonisation (Julietta Singh)
  • Dispossession and artistic labour (Bojana Kunst)
  • Ecology and solidarity with nonhumans (Timothy Morton)
  • Challenges to Eurocentric epistemologies (Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; Boaventura de Sousa Santos)
  • Critiques of the Anthropocene (Donna Haraway; T.J. Demos)
  • Expansions of equality (Laura Cull)

Overall, the group welcomes proposals that experiment with theatre, performance and philosophy to think and practise alternative methods of addressing dispossession, agency, ecology, theatricality and reality.  

Submitting a proposal

Please send a 300-word (max.) proposal and a short biography in a Word document via email. Please also include precise details of your resourcing needs, for example, any audio-visual technology, or a particular type of space (e.g. drama studio) that you will need to make your presentation. Email abstracts and information to the Working Group convenors, Fred Dalmasso, Daniela Perazzo Domm and Nik Wakefield, at philosophy@tapra.org.

The deadline for the submission of proposals is Monday 8thApril 2019.  

Early Career Researchers Bursary Scheme

If you are an Early Career Researcher, then you are eligible to be considered for a TaPRA ECR Bursary. Please follow this link for more information, and please indicate on your proposal whether you fit the criteria and wish to be considered for the bursary scheme: http://tapra.org/bursaries/

Postgraduate Bursary Scheme

There will be a separate call for PG Bursaries later in the year, but please do indicate in your proposal whether you are planning on applying to the scheme.    

Please note: only one proposal may be submitted for a TaPRA event. It is not permitted to submit multiple proposals or submit the same proposal to several Calls for Participation. All presenters must be TaPRA members, i.e. registered for the event; this includes presentations given by Skype or other media broadcast even where the presenter may not physically attend the event venue.

Working Group convenors

  • Fred Dalmasso,
  • Daniela Perazzo Domm 
  • Nik Wakefield


  • University of Surrey
    Guildford, Britain (GU2 7XH)


  • Monday, April 08, 2019


  • theatre, performance, philosophie, philosophy, english, politics, politique, ecology, écologie, dispossession, solidarity, solidarité, anthropocène


  • Fred Dalmasso
    courriel : f [dot] t [dot] j [dot] dalmasso [at] lboro [dot] ac [dot] uk

Information source

  • Fred Dalmasso
    courriel : f [dot] t [dot] j [dot] dalmasso [at] lboro [dot] ac [dot] uk


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Dispossession: Agency, ecology and theatrical reality », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, March 29, 2019, https://doi.org/10.58079/12er

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